Suffolk Show 2019: Day one brings in the crowds as county puts itself on show
PUBLISHED: 19:30 29 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:50 30 May 2019
Organisers of the Suffolk Show were celebrating as perfect weather and a packed programme of events came together to bring tens of thousands of visitors to Trinity Park near Ipswich.
The county's biggest annual festival retains its close links with farming and other elements of the country life - but some of the innovations introduced in 2019 were big hits with the visitors.
The new viewing tower overlooking the showground and giving views as far as Felixstowe and the west of Ipswich was a huge hit - at times queues built up as people waited for the chance to see into the distance.
But Deputy Show Director Bruce Kerr said organisers kept people flowing - giving thousands the chance to see the showground below them.
He said: "It's been a great success. People love being able to see everything in front of them. It's something new and exciting in an area where we marked the end of the First World War last year.
"There's also the new Farming Live Area visitors have a chance to find out what working in farming is all about. That's been a great success and is a great innovation.
"There are changes every year and we have worked as a team to bring them in, but the basics of the show remain the same - as visitors expect."
Mr Kerr, who takes over as director next year, said the secret of success was teamwork - especially the volunteers who act as stewards.
He said: "The show seems to be very successful. You just have to look around and you see a sea of happy faces moving in every direction - it looks as if there are many people here and they are very happy with their day out.
"And getting to and from the show also seems to be working very well. I've been talking to our stewards on the car park and they say traffic has been flowing very well.
"It's all about teamwork between the organisers, the standholders, the sponsors and the fantastic volunteers who give up their time free to act as stewards. There are about 200 of them and we couldn't do this without them."
The show continues on Thursday - and the weather is expected to be warmer than yesterday, but still dry and fine with sunny spells in the afternoon. Organisers hope this will encourage another bumper crowd to the event, making the 2019 a Suffolk Show to remember.
Although most people went to the show to enjoy a great day out, it was impossible for everyone to switch off from the everyday concerns that they are facing at present.
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One leading Suffolk farmer said: "We're getting very concerned about Brexit, and whether it will or won't happen and how it will affect our business.
"We've had meetings with officials from Defra (The Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs), and they have seemed well briefed on things as they stand at the moment - but things change all the time.
"Michael Gove seems to have a good grasp of what is happening, but we don't know how long he'll be there or what his successor will be like.
"We don't know what payments are available in the future or how things will affect us. We are a mixed farm growing different crops and we can't plan for more than a few weeks at a time."
Ipswich Labour MP met representatives from the National Farmers' Union at the show and they raised serious concerns about the future.
He said: "They are worried about the lack of protection and basic standards if we come out without a deal. If the market is flooded with cheap beef or lamb from Argentina or New Zealand it won't have the same welfare standards or safety standards as we have, or that exist elsewhere in Europe."
Although the show remains firmly linked to agriculture, organisers work hard to put together a programme of events and tradestands that appeal to people and families with a wide range of interests.
Food and drink stalls are high in the popularity list at the show - but so are the craft stands, clothing stalls and those selling household goods.
There is a chance for organisations that everyone relies on to meet the public and hear and explain about their role in Suffolk life - from the police and fire service to council services and Ipswich Hospital.
The county council was giving people the chance to name one of the lorries that will be gritting the roads during the winter.
One of the most popular stands, offering fun and games for children and a relaxing cup of tea for their parents, was the Church of England's.
Bishop Martin Seeley broke a week's holiday to join church volunteers on the stand. He said: ''Every year we have a Church of England marquee at the show and our theme is "Connect," offering a place of hospitality, rest, fun and opportunity to enjoy connections with friends and families.
"The marquee reflects the 'cafe church' environment that you can find in many of our local churches, offering hospitality and welcome to all ages.
"At our marquee at the Show there's the opportunity to relax, to share in conversation, and to enjoy refreshments. There are also free children's activities including face painting, craft activities, and sticker packs."
The bishop added: "The marquee provides quality time for all our guests, whether church members or not, to connect with each other. It is an opportunity for those who don't normally attend a church to find out a little more from those who do."